Does the Devil really have all the best tunes? Go tell that to Bach, or the Sensational Nightingales, or Johnny Cash! More recently, the Waxpoetics and Numero Group crowds have been digging up prime examples of what could be called “gospel funk.”
New label Heavy Light Records now joins in this curatorial adventure by releasing the complete recordings of the Relatives, an obscure 1970s North Texas group assembled by gospel performer Gean West to add a little funk to his motivational testifying. Worth the purchase all by themselves: the simmering title track, a sparsely drawn howler that leaves plenty of room for the Spirit, and “Rap On,” the missing link connecting James Brown, “What’s Going On,” and a country preacher on the sauce.